In recent years, lots of people have turned to online learning as a way to sharpen their skills or develop new ones.
Not only does learning online offer us the opportunity to work on our personal and professional development from the comfort of our own homes, but it can also be more affordable than some in-person alternatives.
The great thing about online learning is that it can be done at your own pace and on your own terms. This helps to make self-improvement a stress-free, enjoyable experience. And while there are plenty of free online courses out there, which can teach you the basics of almost anything, many people find it beneficial to go a step further and take out an e-learning subscription.
An e-learning subscription can give you the chance to really get into the nitty-gritty of a range of different subjects, have your questions answered by tutors, and achieve widely recognised certification.
If you’re completely new to online learning or have never considered taking out an e-learning subscription before, you might find it useful to have all the facts. Below, we explain what exactly an e-learning subscription is, how you can benefit, and offer a few options for getting started.
What is an e-learning subscription?
An e-learning subscription involves paying a fee yearly or monthly to an online course provider. In exchange, you’ll get access to flexible online classes on a huge range of practical and/or theoretical topics. This could include anything from hairdressing to coding to creative writing.
Courses or lessons will typically include a combination of lecture slides, interactive quizzes, games, and assignments. Many courses also offer you the chance to have your questions answered by educators or 1:1 support from a tutor.
At the end of a course, you’ll usually receive a certificate – which, depending on your course provider – could be recognised nationally or globally.
You can take out e-learning subscriptions for yourself, or even purchase them as a gift for someone else.
How much does an e-learning subscription cost?
The cost of e-Learning subscriptions can vary quite considerably, and providers might give you the option of paying monthly or yearly.
Many online learning providers also offer free trials or free access to courses without some of the added benefits mentioned above. So if you’re unsure whether you want to commit to a subscription, then it can be worth giving these a try first.
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What are the benefits of an e-learning subscription, compared with free or one-off payment courses?
People take out e-learning subscriptions for a range of different reasons – perhaps they want to work on their personal or professional development or learn just for the fun of it. And since different learning options offer different outcomes, your reasons for learning affect which route is best for you.
So when deciding whether to subscribe to an e-learning provider, it can be helpful to consider what additional benefits you might gain from taking a subscription-based journey, rather than getting stuck into a free one or paying for a one-off course.
Free courses will often give you an introduction to a subject and help you get to grips with the basics.
You usually won’t have access to an online tutor, and you might get a certificate upon completion. However, it’s unlikely that it’ll be one that carries accreditation or is widely recognised in the UK or abroad.
In many cases, a free course is suitable for people who are just learning for fun or aren’t worried about getting accredited certification.
If you want to take your learning to the next level, either for personal reasons or because you’re looking to impress potential employers, it’s worth being aware of some of the benefits that you could gain from a subscription-based e-learning pathway.
Common benefits include…
- The chance to take unlimited courses under a single subscription. This also means that if you change your mind about a course, you could start a new one.
- Access to an online tutor who can answer your questions and offer support.
- The option to pause your course, save your progress, and pick it back up at a time that’s convenient for you.
- The chance to revisit lessons as many times as you like at no extra cost.
- Getting to go deeper with your learning, rather than only scratching the surface. This could include being asked to do assignments or putting practical skills into action away from the computer.
- Widely recognised certification – with a certificate either included in the cost of the subscription or heavily discounted.
- Removal of all adverts from courses. Whilst this isn’t a dealbreaker, adverts can sometimes be an annoying distraction.
Many people also find that e-learning subscriptions can be powerful motivators when it comes to gaining new skills and knowledge. This is because people often try to take as many courses as they can while their subscription is active in order to get the best value for their money.
Single courses that incur a one-off fee
These courses will usually offer you the same kind of opportunities that e-learning subscriptions do, with the key difference being that for the cost, you’ll only have access to a single course.
This option is ideal for those who are only interested in learning one specific thing.
What are the downsides of an e-learning subscription?
A potential issue with taking out an e-learning subscription is that it’s easy to forget to cancel it when you no longer need it. This means that you could continue paying for something that you aren’t using without realising it.
It’s also not uncommon for people to sign up for a free trial of a subscription service, only to forget to cancel it before the trial ends. So even if they had no plans to continue with the service, they end up getting charged when the trial period expires.
If you’re thinking about taking out an e-learning subscription, it’s a good idea to make a note in your diary or set an alert on your phone to remind you to cancel it by a certain date.
It’s also worth checking what the cancellation policy of any online learning provider is before you sign up for anything, so you know whether a subscription has a minimum term agreement or an early cancellation fee. This way, there won’t be any unwelcome surprises!
Which learning providers offer e-learning subscriptions?
There are plenty of online learning platforms that offer subscriptions, and the one you choose could be based on cost and/or what sort of subjects you’re interested in learning about.
Here are a few examples to give you an idea about what sort of platforms are out there…
Skillshare is a great resource for anyone looking to hone their creative skills, either for work or fun. They have a huge catalogue of courses, which includes everything from animation to creative writing.
With a free account, you can access plenty of free classes on desktop and mobile (iOS) that’ll help you discover new skills, techniques, and tools. Every virtual class is broken down into smaller lessons, which include practical projects to complete and share with a community of creators.
However, if you’re looking for a more in-depth learning experience, and would like unlimited access to thousands of courses, Skillshare offers a Premium subscription. The first two weeks are free, then you can either choose to pay £84 for the whole year, or £13 per month. You can check out Skillshare’s cancellation and refund policy here.
As well as being a social media platform for professionals, LinkedIn offers courses to help people advance their careers – or even start new ones.
Currently, LinkedIn Learning is offering a one-month free subscription trial, which gives users benefits like unlimited access to the courses library and full access to LinkedIn Premium – plus course certificates to add to their LinkedIn profile.
After the free trial, LinkedIn Learning comes at a cost of £29.99 per month (taken as monthly payments), or £16.99 per month, if you pay for the whole year upfront. To find out more about the terms and conditions of a LinkedIn Learning subscription, have a read of this page.
Ever wanted to learn from people at the very top of their field? With a MasterClass subscription, you can!
MasterClass is an e-learning platform that’s home to hundreds of courses on a range of different topics, taught by masters of their craft.
Gordon Ramsey teaches a cooking course, James Patterson teaches writing, and Dr. Jane Goodall teaches conservation – just to name a few.
However, while MasterClass gives you information from some of the world’s top minds, it does come with its drawbacks. Unlike many other e-learning platforms, you can’t interact with your tutor and won’t receive certification. However, if access to top knowledge is your main priority, this is a worthy learning choice.
The basic Masterclass subscription is billed annually at a rate of £10 per month. But there are other plans available – like the duo (£14pm) and the family (£19pm) subscriptions.
A final thought…
e-learning subscriptions can be a convenient way to expand your knowledge and skill set, advance your career, and get certified all from the comfort of your own home.
And while it’s possible to enjoy online learning for free, it’s still worth being aware of the extra benefits that a subscription could have to offer.
However, if you’re interested in finding out more about free learning resources or what sort of skills you can learn at home, you might want to check out the articles on the learning section of our website, such as; Learning at home – a guide to free resources and 12 new skills that you can learn from home and how to get started.
Or, if you’re interested in a different kind of learning subscription, why not check out Rest Less Events, our virtual community and events platform? You’ll find a variety of learning opportunities – from cooking demonstrations and art classes to history lectures and reading groups.